This was originally going to be a fanon news column, but well, we all know how active the portal generally is these days ^^" But I will point out that you should congratulate the featured authors for this month, however: Aritiane for his fanon, Phantoms, and Fruipit for her article and oneshot, Colours.
Anyway, I didn't feel the need to write this article out of my love and bias towards Vortex, the only living community fanon that I'm also a part of. (Heh well, understandable if you don't believe me though.) My inspiration came from something I hadn't expected when I became one of the authors: the unique and eye-opening experience of writing for another author's character.
This particular quality of Vortex is something that makes it very different from your average collaborative fanon. When I think about it, I believe it may actually be the reason its authors can still be motivated to meet regularly, peer review the chapters, and organize the publishing the way we have so far. The cast of Vortex are the stars of our best fanons: Ling from Agent Slash's Suki's Story, Kaddo from ARG's Avatar: Energy Saga, Shirou from BlackMonkey's The Avatar Rhythm, Yun from Mageddon725's Avatar- Aftermath and Burning Earth, Ursa from Wordbender's Air, and finally Yuhan from my Silent Hero in Emerald. (<-- A Dai Li fic, what a surprise!) The only new face is Olaiya, the antagonist specially created for this fanon by Suzon.
These characters are us Vortex authors' very own and very dear protagonists. Any writer reading this should know the feeling; an original character can have the essence of practically your own child, the way s/he grows and grows in both your mind and fanon. You only keep adding more details to that character as your story progresses, and eventually you see a permanent mental image of this unique, imaginary person whenever you write. It's not a surprise if s/he becomes precious to you.
Now imagine being told by someone else that they're going to go ahead and write for your protagonist. As in they're taking into their own hands the result of your dedicated efforts that brought your cherished character to life. To be honest, it still feels a little strange for me to see my character whenever I review a new chapter, going about and doing things that I didn't 'tell' him to do. And on the flip side, you know that every other author who's contributed their own character is feeling the same way. It's a bizarre process, especially when it's your turn to write a chapter and take over the actions of all the characters who aren't yours.
And now...I can say that it's something everyone in the fanon portal should try doing.
This isn't the same as writing for canon characters and striving to stay true to their personalities. It's much deeper this time, handling OC's that others have toiled over to create. I had thought that I'm used to evaluating fanons already, for reviews - but this kind of inspection was something entirely new. I'm currently writing Chapter 4 of Vortex, and I constantly scramble around the stories of each character's fanon for passages before I even dare to write a sentence containing dialogue. The thing about OC's is that they're people who only their original authors will know 100%. You can start to panic, if anything, when your writing is supposed to portray a whole group of them believably as themselves.
Which is why it's the most amazing feeling ever when it's pulled off correctly!
In Vortex, chapter review involves every author pointing out what was done right or wrong with their respective characters. Then comes that moment where your protagonist does things you didn't write, yet stays so true to himself/herself that you enjoy reading it. When another author has caught on that well, your OC kind of comes to life on a new level. After all, OC's are imaginary because they exist in only your head; with an experience like this, suddenly other authors know your character as well. Your protagonist is in a different mind, with a different set of plans...and when that author can write it believably, well, your character doesn't get much closer to being real than that. You're not the only one who knows him/her personally anymore.
Finally, what happens when you're the one getting to know someone else's OC and writing for them? Well, I really believe that you don't truly understand a fanon until you know its characters well enough to write them. You'd be surprised, too, at the effort it takes even when you're a hardcore and updated fan of the character's story. Suddenly you have to pay attention to specific parts in the passages, areas that tell you who they are - and slowly you start teaching yourself how to predict what they'd do in any situation.
It's this kind of evaluation, I think, that makes one truly able to grasp the idea of character development itself. One of the most important things that you have to deal with in a fanon like Vortex, for example, is the fact that you're always tempted to talk about your own character a lot while the others are supposed to be equally represented. You learn to downplay the spotlight on your character, make a habit of giving the same, deep focus on the others, and to avoid making your OC look too talented or wise in comparison. Basically, it's everything you're supposed to be doing in your OC's original fanon for character development. People tend to forget that anyone who isn't their protagonist needs the same care and attention - but in a fanon like Vortex, it's law.
You can't help favoring your own character, of course, but now you're writing for five equally important protagonists. And you kind of have to remember to represent them appropriately, because the other authors will pick it up like wildfire when their OC's are neglected or just winged.
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When you're all working together though, enthusiastically commenting on all the creative things you've come up with for each others' characters, it's just a tremendously fun and epic experience.
So yeah, writing for another's character... Do it! I can tell you that you'll get so many things out of this experience, from understanding and appreciating fanons more deeply to becoming a better writer overall. I wouldn't ramble about it for so long in this article if it weren't a big deal!
As a last random side note, though: Those of you who actually read Vortex, look forward to our Winter Finale of the series' first book in March. (As in it takes place during winter in the fanon.) Don't miss it!
Telling all writers to collaborate with each other's fanons more often, this is Minnichi signing out.
Welcome to the first ever Ba Sing Se Times Fanon Advertising System report for 2013! And I plan to go big for the this FAS, so get ready! For those of you who's first issue of the newsletter it is, or for those of you who don't know about our fabulous FAS, here's a quick intro.
*creepy, narrative, movie trailer voice: on* In a
world wiki, plagued by the failure of fan fiction commercialism, a rag tag team of misfits BlackMonkey and the Fanonbenders come from the smoke machine fog heroic outlands to save the hopeless writers struggling fanon authors. Together, with their trusty sandwiches keyboard powers, they brought back the amazing Fanon Advertising System, to further allow authors to spread the word about their fanon and gain readers. Coming soon to theaters near nowhere.
Hm... I said intro, not trailer. Surprise! The first step of 'Operation: Go Big!' ;) Anyway, the FAS also features a distinctive contest that is easy to enter. (SO DO IT!) It's not that hard. All you have to do is write up some feedback for the fortnightly promotion fanon, sign you signature, and BAM!, you're instantly entered to win some amazing-licious prizes! They include:
- A nifty, little userbox to spruce up you page!
But wait! There's more!
- Bragging rights, who doesn't want those?
But wait!! There's more!!
- Your username written on the FAS Contest page, forever and ever and ever...
But wait!!! There's more!!!
- Recognition here in The Ba Sing Se Times!
BUT WAIT!!! THERE'S MORE!!!
- And, a chance to win a fabu-tastic drawing from one of the pony-begging friends of Minnichi's over at deviantart.com!
So what are you waiting for? Order now!!! (The FAS contest does not protect against lawsuits, business suits, or pan suits. No exchanges or refunds. If you have any problems, questions, or concerns, contact us at FAScontest@not_a_real_thing_don't_bother.com.) ... My info-merricial instincts come and go. ;)
But now that you've heard the movie trailer and the info-merricial, you're probably wondering, "What is that Taikai going to do for the announcement of the contest winner this time?!" Well so-and-so, that's a great question. I was planning on a parody/autotune song, but that doesn't go with the theme of television! XD
What else goes with movie trailers and info-merricials? Duh! Funny insurance commercials. Yup! The FAS column this time has gone to a new level, a new level I say! That's right. ;)
(RuleroftheBisons97) "I'm a farmer, but I'll enter the contest! Bah bum!"
(Typhoonmaster) "Like a good deputy, Tai-Farm is there...with the contest results!" *Taikai pops up*
(Taikai Dai Li/insurance agent) "Well Ty and Ruler, did you know that you two were the only ones who entered the contest with feedback for Avatar: The Mistakes of the Avatar?! It's about how each Avatar makes a mistake that gets fixed by the next generation. It has several subscribers, and good reception. Godsrule, the author, plans to write 120 chapters! But anyway, you probably want the winner to be announced... " *Taikai gets hit by a rock glove*
(Minnichi Dai Li agent) *puts down hand and grabs the envelope containing the results* "And if you get the results from Minn-state, you can save yourself from Dai Li Mayhem, like me. ;)"
(Taikai) "Like a good deputy, Tai-Farm is there...with the envelope back in my hands! *the envelope flashes into Taikai's hands*
(Minni-Mayhem) "Gasp! The agent can do it too?! Gimme that back, you!" *Taikai and Minni-Mayhem fight for the envelope, ensuing a tug-of-war battle. The envelope flies out of Minnichi's hands after Taikai lets go, and the results land on the ground in front of KettleMeetInsurance.*
(KettleMeetInsurance) "The winner is...Typhoonmaster for the third time! Congrats! :)" *KMI looks down at Taikai and Minni who are on the ground gasping, then turns to the camera* "Humans. Even when Taikai crosses his 'T' and Minni dots her 'i's, they still run into trouble. Each other! It's amazing they've made it this far... KettleMeetInsurance's No Liberty Mutual, un-responsibility: what's your policy?" *the screen freezes as a puff of smoke blows, then...*
(Lostris agent) "Avatar Wiki Profile # 1: Phased insurance agents, you're one of us. Lostris-CO: We're a lot like you, a little different."
And scene. ;) Congrats to Typhoonmaster, for his third win. Now people, are you going to let Ty win again? This time, enter so that there's some more competition. You saw that info-merricial, didn't you? XD
Be sure to read Avatar: The Mistakes of the Avatar, and tune in next time to the FAS Report when we feature The Lost Scrolls!